Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What is growing in your garden (Honduras edition)?

I am one of those guys who likes to look at backyards. And I like to see what folks are growing in their gardens.

Believe it or not, there are others who do the same. Some of them even write academic papers.

Survey of 75 gardens in five different "zones" in Honduras. Percentage of gardens that had various food-producing species in the sample. *

The first annual plant that comes in on the list is "Squash" at number 8 which seems really low. The authors of the paper write the following about the low percentage of annual vegetables in Honduras.

While these (traditional annual) vegetables provide vitamins which are frequently deficient in Honduran diets, annual gardens cannot survive extreme conditions (drought, erosion). A poor gardening year could bring an end to the project before seeds are produced or all the seeds are consumed before the next growing season. Hondurans are aware of this, and the poorest Hondurans are not willing to take the risks that an annual vegetable gardens represent...

 Later in the paper they also write

In most areas of Honduras, people allow chickens, pigs, cows, burros, and sometimes horses to wander freely. For this reason, most of the yards were fenced with barbed wire or stone

Annuals or seedlings are more vulnerable to damage from free-range animals, monkeys and birds than perennial or woody crops.


Plants were also frequently used as barriers. Cacti, agave, sanseveria, giant yucca, mimosa, Japanese poinsettia, various aralias and crotons were the plants most frequently used as fencing material. 

*Other food producing plants that were logged in fewer than 4% of the gardens include cabbage, giant yucca, custard apple, nance, strawberry, pineapple, Surninam cherry, tree tomato, sweet potato, culantro ( Eryngium foetidum), peppermint, grapes, sorghum, malabar gourd, potato, bitterwood, garbonzo beans, apple, monkey apple, Indian jujube, tropical almond, Spanish plum, coco


  1. ERJ, the danger of wildlife such as monkeys was an issue mentioned when we were in Costa Rica as well. I had not given any thought to the matter previously - our issues are the "traditional" North American deer, gophers, and rabbits - but any wildlife is a potential risk.

    The annual versus perennial is very real, as I think many are finding out this Summer.

  2. An interesting point I had not thought about - some annuals you can't just replant, either because they don't grow from seedlings well or because they take years to mature and bear fruit.

    1. If they take years to fruit, they aren’t annuals.

  3. The (or at least my/here) problem with the ubiquitous perennial vs. annual issue is that perennials, whilst to a degree hardier, both take longer (years sometimes) to even start producing, and are (mostly) massively less productive (per area) than equivalent/alternative annuals. I have some, mostly left to their own devices as I work to care for the ‘more delicate’ (I didn’t say finicky, often apparently deliberately contrary, or infuriating, even if I was thinking it) annuals.

    My staple, basic, ‘big producers’ are all annuals.

    I have (very) limited experience in tropical/sub-tropical areas but (from binge-watching/reading David the Good) I’m aware that a significant amount of producers there are perennials (and what producers! I wish my garden could grow some of them).

    My ‘take’ from the paper is that they were examining gardens in general – notice that 65% of plants were ‘ornamentals’, only 25% ‘food’ (do the same in The US and the favoured plant may turn out to be Roses, or more likely grasses – just possibly the lesser spotted garden gnome). There’s gardens, and then there’s gardens.

    I wonder if the difficulties arise more from the growing/farming of (commercial) introduced ‘traditional’ (Butternut) varieties instead of traditional traditional natives (such as Chayote)? Monocultures, especially introduced from wildly different areas, never do well when the reality of local conditions impose themselves, do they?

  4. Wildlife and long lead times are the bane of perennials.

  5. Faith in Spring:


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